Leadership

Dwyane Wade donates $200,000 to Parkland victims and sponsors art exhibit in their honor

Miami Heat star and Chicago native Dwyane Wade has dedicated a special exhibit to victims of the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. The exhibit, titled "Parkland 17" in honor of the 17 lives lost, made its debut last weekend at Florida's Art Walk.

The exhibit was originally to be featured for one weekend but will have a second showing this coming week due to popular demand, Calyann Barnett, the exhibit's creative director, tells CNBC Make It.

The art exhibit features a mural of 17-year-old Joaquin Oliver, who was one of the students killed in the shooting. According to family members, Oliver was a longtime Wade fan and was buried wearing his Heat jersey. Upon hearing the news, Wade dedicated the remainder of the Miami Heat's season to the teen.

"Joaquin Oliver was buried in his jersey and [Wade] is from Chicago where gun violence is high," says Barnett. "So he wanted to be able to do something for them and make a difference."

With this exhibit, Wade's team wanted the art to serve as a call to action. The exhibit features gun violence statistics scrawled on the walls along with a "Ring Your Rep" phone booth where people can contact their representatives to demand action on gun control.

By this coming weekend, Barnett hopes to add a booth where passers-by can register to vote. "You have to be politically involved to make a difference," she says. For Barnett, that means speaking to members of Congress and requesting they support stricter gun control if they want to stay in office.

"So yes, we really wanted to remember their lives and get that momentum," says Barnett, "but we also wanted it to be impactful." She points to one of the statistics that was featured in the exhibit: On an average day, 96 Americans are killed by guns.

"Just think of how many parents, teachers, siblings, family members that are affected by this," she says. "What can [you] do to make change?"

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Last Saturday, Wade stopped by the exhibit after the Heat's win over the Washington Wizards. "The most impactful piece [for him] was the mural and the statistics," says Barnett.

The Heat guard also announced via Twitter that he and his wife, actress Gabrielle Union, are donating $200,000 on behalf of Chicago to a GoFundMe account created by Stoneman Douglas student Cameron Kasky. He called on fellow athletes to do the same.

Half of the funds raised through the GoFundMe account will cover expenses associated with the "March for Our Lives" taking place in Washington, D.C., on Saturday, March 24. The other half will "provide relief and financial support" to the victims and families of the shooting, according to the GoFundMe page, which has hit nearly $3.3 million of its $3.5 million goal.

Wade also met with students at the high school last Wednesday, just hours after a visit from Education Secretary Betsy Devos.

Going forward, Barnett hopes the exhibit will "empower" people to pick up the phone and demand change so this type of gun violence never happens again. She adds that after last weekend's showing she received "lots of thank-yous and tears."

"These kids are 14 years, 15 years, 17 years," says Barnett. "This is supposed to be the start of their lives and for many it's the end."

— Video produced by CNBC's Mary Stevens.

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